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What are we going to do with Mary Ann?

by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Mary Ann sat down at the dining room table. She waited for her father to say grace. He did not. He said "Mary Ann." She was so surprised that she dropped her fork.

"Yes father," she said demurely, eyes down.

"Mary Ann," he said again, "I hardly know how to say this. Have you been... talking to... that young habilis boy?"

Mary Ann's face turned red as her hair. Her brother giggled.

Her mother gasped. "They're animals! That's disgusting!" She jumped up from the table and ran out of the room. Soon she could be heard in the bathroom.

Mary Ann jerked her head up and glared straight at her father. "Pastor said two weeks ago that they are people just as much as we."

"That ape has more hair than your dog," her brother said, and laughed. "Does he use dog shampoo or people shampoo? Does he have to take walks twice a day? Do you pick..."

"William!" Her father said, "that is enough."

"If you must know," Mary Ann continued, "Peter is helping me with geometry homework. But he has asked me to the dance. And I said yes."

William started making ape noises.

"I'm trying to be understanding," her father said. "He's 3 feet tall and covered with as much hair as a retriever. He is as strong as a gorilla, as smart as a chimpanzee, and probably won't live past 40. Where did we go wrong?"

"Don't you see dad? You taught me to see people as people. You should be proud."

"Proud that my grandchildren will need to shave their entire bodies before they can go out in public?"

"No! Proud that they, or their children, will be accepted as equal, because you taught me that a man is a man, no matter what he looks like."

Her mother, standing in the doorway, turned white and disappeared again suddenly.

"Dad. Peter and I are friends." Mary Ann flicked a lock of hair off of her forehead.

Her father sighed deeply. "So. When are you going to invite him to dinner? Is he allergic to anything?

"Does he eat pork?"

The end

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